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Saina advances, Sindhu falters

Saina Nehwal, during her match against Simone Prutsch, on Wednesday

New Delhi: Saina Nehwal began her campaign in the $250,000 India Open Super Series on a positive note, defeating her Austrian rival, Simone Prutsch, in less than half an hour at the Siri Fort Sports Complex on Wednesday.

While the Olympic medallist looked in great form after her 21-7, 21-9 triumph over the 80th ranked 36-year-old Austrian, the spirit of the local crowd got bit dampened because of the early exit of PV Sindhu.

Pitted against China’s Wang Shixian, the Indian teenager lost an extended battle 15-21, 21-12, 10-21 in 69 minutes.

Defending champion and world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, moved into the second round the easy way, beating India’s K. Ajay Kumar 21-9, 21-9 in 24 minutes.

The Saina-Prutsch encounter was a complete mismatch with the world No. 8 Indian winning points almost at will. Saina will meet Thailand’s Natcha Saengchote in the second round on Thursday.

“It was definitely an easy match… I was not under any kind of pressure,” said Saina later.

However, the defeat of Sindhu against Shixian came as a disappointment for the fans, especially after her dominant display in the second game.

After losing the first game, she looked to be in total control in the second, but committed too many unforced errors to suffer her maiden defeat against the Chinese girl.

True, Shixian is the reigning All-England champion and a former world No. 1, whose deft touch play is a treat to watch. But never in her career was the Chinese comfortable against Sindhu. She had lost to the Indian in three previous occasions.

However, on Wednesday, Shixian had the satisfaction of winning in front of Sindhu’s home crowd. But then, Sindhu has only herself to blame. In the third game, she took a 3-0 lead and then gave away too many easy points.

In men’s singles, P Kashyap upset sixth seed Zhengming Wang of China 21-12, 17-21, 21-12 in exactly an hour.

However, it was curtains for other Indians including top ranked K Srikanth, H S Prannoy, B Sai Praneeth, Anand Pawar, Shreyansh Jaiswal and two-time national champion Anup Sridhar in men’s singles. In women’s singles, it was end of road for Saili Rane, Tanvi Lad, Shruti Mundada and PC Thulasi.